A regular reader asked an interesting question about an online site. Basically, the question concerned donkey’s hitting 2 and 3 out rivers for the win. It certainly seems you see it more often online than in live games.
For example, someone calls an all in with four to a flush. Let’s make it simple and say that after the flop you have trip Aces, and they have 4 to the flush. So they have 9 outs, but one of those outs pairs the non-flush card on the board, so he’s down to 8. Ignore any straight implications, and let’s stick with the flush. Eight outs, two cards to come, would be approximately a 30% chance to hit his draw. So they have a 30% chance to win, leaving you with 70%.
Or, you can look at it like I do, and go with individual cards (turn and river) rather than combined. I use this if there is still more betting to do, but it works all in too. When there is more betting, it is more accurate though, as there is a pot odds calculation that must accompany it. Eight outs, 1 card, would be around 15% to hit on the turn. If it doesn’t, then it is about 15% again to hit on the river.
So in either way of calculation…the odds of hitting your flush draw are not good. But people call with them all the time. And they call with them holding non-premium suited cards. For example, a player looks down and sees the 4-8 of hearts in the big blind, and the button raises three times the big blind. For some reason the big blind seems to call with this more often than not. Then the 10-Q of hearts flops, and they call all the way to the river. They never even consider the fact that the button might have raised with the A-K of hearts!
Now, since people call with them all the time, why does it appear that they win with it all the time? Simple….you only see the cards revealed when they win. You don’t see the losing cards 70% of the time, so you don’t know if they called your trips with pocket Kings, a straight draw, or a flush draw. You usually only see it when you are either all in with them, or you lose. So it only appears that the bad outs hit all the time online.
Another reason you see it online more is simple mathematics. You play more hands online than you do live. The blinds are faster, the dealer is always ready, there aren’t any misdeals, there isn’t any delay to chop a pot, breaks are only 5 minutes, etc. So if you see more hands, you’ll see more bad beats. It is as simple as that.
I read an article one time that Doyle Brunson believes that today’s online player sees more hands in a year than he did in his first 20 years of playing live poker. So you have to figure if you’re seeing 20 times more hands, you’re seeing 20 times more bad beats.
Anyway, what happened to generate the email is that a player shoved all in on a flop of J-10-4. The emailer called with J-10 in his hand. The all in bettor had 9-9. Donkey? Sort of. He shoved all in with the hopes of taking down the pot uncalled. He was wrong. And of course, the river was a 9. At the time, that’s a 4% chance of hitting. But guess what? If there was no chance of the 9 coming, then it would have been 0%, not 4%.
What are the odds of hitting the powerball lottery? Less than 1%. Let’s just keep it there. OK, if you want specifics, it is 1:146,107,962. So you have a 1 in 150 MILLION chance of winning the lottery. .0000000015%. How’s that? But guess what? People hit it and win millions of dollars. So if they can hit a lottery draw with a 1 in 150 million chance, they can hit a 9 on the river with a 4%. Heck, give me the choice between a 4% and a .0000000015%, and I’ll take the 4% every time.
Was it a good move? Should he have won? No, would be correct for both questions. But you shouldn’t buy lottery tickets either, and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.
Here’s a little note to think about. The next time you go to buy a lottery ticket, ask yourself if you’d call an all in, preflop, with pocket 2’s. If you wouldn’t, don’t buy the lottery tickets.
On another note, I wanted to review a hand that was played last night, because it was a perfect example of how some players allow frustration to interfere with proper decision making. A very good friend of mine raised preflop from late position, but the raise was extremely suspect. With blinds at 200/400, the player raised to over 3,000. In most games I play in, this normally means a pocket pair that isn’t exactly premium. In other words, it is a raise intended to take down the pot right there and then, without contest. Everything folds around to the button, who takes a considerable amount of time before deciding to call the bet. Again, in most games I play in, this normally means A-K, when called against that sort of raise.
You could immediately see the frustration in my friend’s face. There was no doubt in my mind that she was holding Q-Q or J-J. Then, of course, A-5-2 on the flop. From here, frustration dictated action rather than proper play. Obviously, the original raiser was beat, but without hesitation, she shoved all in. Of course, she was called, and the hands revealed exactly as predicted, A-K against Q-Q. The A-K prevailed, and Q-Q was eliminated from the game with a hand that she didn’t need to get eliminated with. Pocket Queens deserve care and attention when playing them. Raise a nominal amount. If called, and an Ace hits the flop, proceed with caution. You simply cannot bluff someone out of a pot who called with A-K when an Ace hits the flop. It is why they called. If they are going to fold when the Ace hits, they wouldn’t have played the hand to begin with.
So the morale of this story is to avoid frustration. It causes unclear thought. Unclear thought causes bad decision making. And bad decision making means you are driving home far too early from a poker game.
That being said, I will be spending this weekend in Las Vegas, and the Q-Q player will be there also. We plan on great fun all weekend long, and hopefully some big poker pots to talk about next week. I am riding my motorcycle to Las Vegas along with another friend of mine, and I also hope to have some great tales from the road. It will be raining, and possibly snowing, when we leave tomorrow, so I think we might have a story before we get to the New Mexico border.
Sorry Jim but I disagree. Easy to disagree but can I support my opinion with fact? The problem with online poker vs live poker is that there are a lot of other variables and scenarios that skew the odds in online poker. Collusion between players, designated winners (designated by the site) and “zombie” programming that reveals what other players are holding are just a few. All have been proven to have occurred in the past so why believe that they aren’t happening now? On one site that I used to play, I’ve gotten my money in the pot with the best hand around 98% of the time. As far a being ahead I’ve been anywhere from a 53%-45% favorite to a 93%-5% favorite. (Of course the missing percentages are for ties) I have prevailed in those hands exactly 34% of the time. I am losing two thirds of the time when I should be winning about that same amount or slightly more. Bad luck? Just not my day? O.k. I can believe that. But this is a regular and demonstrable constant on that site, based on more than a thousand hands played. Obviously I don’t play there any more. I love Jim’s take on things but he regularly ignores the “rest of the story” as the late, great Paul Harvey would say. Until and unless online poker is based in the U.S., regulated and overseen with an eye toward stopping cheating, it will remain a flawed and suspect product.
Gary R Reed
Colorado State Director
Poker Players Alliance
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